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Archaeologist Reports on Key Musical Artifact

Archaeologist Nicholas J Conard reported at a press conference yesterday on his team’s discovery of a 35,000-year-old (early Aurignacian) bird-bone flute unearthed in Germany, reportedly the oldest handcrafted musical instrument found to-date. This discovery was described in Conard’s coauthored Nature article, “New flutes document the earliest musical tradition in southwestern Germany”:

Researchers universally accept the existence of complex musical instruments as an indication of fully modern behaviour and advanced symbolic communication but … the archaeological record of the evolution and spread of music remains incomplete. […] These finds demonstrate the presence of a well-established musical tradition at the time when modern humans colonized Europe…

Click here to view the article abstract (log-in required for full article). This story has since been picked up by The New York Times, which features an article describing the flute’s construction, how it was dated, and the significance of its age. Photos and additional details are available through The Associated Press.


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